was the name given to a heavy Panzerjäger based on the ill-fated
Tiger(P) design. 89 were assigned to s.Pz.Jg.Abt.653 and 654 (both
part of s.Pz.Jg.Rgt.656) in June 1943, just in time to participate
in operation Zitadelle (Kursk). In the first quarter of 1944, the
48 remaining vehicles were rebuilt and modified:
ventilation gratings on the engine deck
a MG for the radio-operator
a commander's cupola
type of tracks
guards on front of superstructure
shades for driver's periscopes
supports for front of fenders (no longer spare tracks in that position)
box and spare tracks moved to rear of hull
modification they were sent to Italy with s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653, but
that part of the story is not relevant for this kit.
was officially changed to Elefant in February 1944. While modelers
use "Ferdinand" for the early configuration and "Elefant"
for the modified vehicles, the name-change was actually unrelated
to the modifications.
version, with an extra antenna at the rear of the superstructure was
also built. Worthy of note is that all vehicles already had the mount
for this antenna fitted. Three Bergepanzer Ferdinand were also built
(without additional armor).
who would like to put the vehicle in a diorama might be interested
to know that the vehicle had a six man crew and that crews wore both
black and Feldgrau Panzer tunics . While regulations for Ferdinand
crews required black patches (with skulls and pink piping) on both
tunics, Litzen were also often seen on the Feldgrau version.
2.1 Plastic parts
Instructions, decals and marking options
was pretty straight forward... sort of....
of all, I need to mention that I followed the instructions, except
for the tiny bits and for one of the tracks (but more about that later).
I also need to mention that the kit is well engineered, very well
detailed, but glue will be needed to make the parts fit without gaps.
Those of you familiar with the Zvezda snap-fits must also know by
now that the plastic is very soft and that excessive amounts of glue
will turn your model into a pudding of molten plastic.
exactly didn't go according to plan:
of the attachments for the rear towing eyes (part C10) departed
into Low Earth Orbit. I decided to scratchbuild two new ones. (One
would have been sufficient, but I didn't manage to make my scratchbuilt
piece look exactly like the remaining kit part.) Note that Zvezda
gives you double the amount of handholds (part C61) in case you
lose those, but none for the towing brackets.
fighting compartment is a complex arrangement of individual plates
and internal fittings that will hold them together. The pegs for
one of the parts for internal scaffolding broke, however, which
fragilized an already rickety assembly. I don't know if this had
anything to do with it, but the fighting compartment ended up with
small gaps and a misaligned front plate (which I only noticed after
painting). I guess that patience and gentle hands might come a long
way to avoid this situation, but I was now in need of something
to mask this elementary modeling mistake (see pictures).
then came the tracks.... My third encounter with these Zvezda tracks
and I am slowly starting to get convinced that it is a typical case
of ISLAGIATT. They are single length tracks, one for each side,
bend well and are supposed to be fitted at a certain stage during
the construction process. The problem is, that however hard you
try, something will always get in the way when you want to install
them, requiring enough force to break the tracks in the most unpredictable
places. (The best would be to leave of part C9 until the tracks
are on, but I figured that one out too late.) It doesn't help, however,
paint and oil washes weaken the tracks; the brittleness then
makes the track break at the most unexpected moments.
the tracks have eyes that need to fit onto pegs between the
middle roadwheels, giving them a fixed position with respect
to the whole running gear, including the teeth of the sprockets
(front and aft). The latter need to be lined up perfectly, but
don't rotate easily, and as the tracks are fixed in place due
to the pegs/eyes, you will need to position the teeth of the
sprocket very carefully.
the glue needed to make the tracks fit snugly on said sprockets
and other roadwheels generally weakens the tracks even further
and, made from very soft styrene, mars the detail.
ended up with a broken right track, at the point of greatest curvature
(where the damage is most visible, i.e. at the extreme front and
rear). It was not all bad, as that left me with three stretches
of sprue that were more easily installed, but in the end I had
to resort to cutting two links from the bottom run and use them
on the front end as the original parts were too damaged by the
time I was able to make them bend to my will.
Chastened, I decided to proceed differently with the other (left)
track. I cut of the locating eyes and cut up the tracks deliberately
in 5 sections, in order to be able to work them without the need
of an excessive amount of expletives.
Note that there is almost no way to figure out in which direction
the tracks need to be put on (even if you pay attention and install
B1 to the right and B2 to the left) until you have completely
wrapped them around the suspension. I think I installed them the
right way around, but don't take my word for it.
two spare tracks on the front fenders are better installed early
on in the build. You risk damaging the fenders when pushing them
into place and the underside of the peg is (barely) visible on the
underside of these fenders as it goes straight through, which means
that any mud and dirt that you want to cover these undersides with
will not have been applied to those areas.
gun mantlet is a tight fit and if you push it too hard you will
dislodge the internal mount. At this point in the construction there
is no way to go inside the fighting compartment to fix that.
is difficult to align the gun mount, gun shield and barrel, unless
you glue them firmly in place.
barrel needs to be drilled out at the busy end.
only scale drawings I have of the vehicle are from , and while
the book doesn't mention the scale of these drawings, I am tempted
to believe, based on the real dimensions of the vehicle, that they
are in 1/35. It doesn't help, however, that some of the drawings
are spread over two pages, which means that you lose a part of them
in the book binding.
kits scales out correctly for overall width, but the top of the
casemate seems closer to 1/71 (being 0.2mm too narrow).
the top of casemate is ok, but at the base it is closer to 1/75
(1.5mm short). The engine deck is closer to 1/73, makig the overall
length also closer to 1.74, being 2.2mm short.
I wouldn't go as far as saying it is really noticeable, but if you
pay attention, you might notice that the angle of the superstructure
front plate is indeed a bit too close to the vertical.
Shape and details
salient details of the kit correspond well with the drawings in
, with the exception of the size of the cover for the periscope
and the shape of the loader's hatch on the roof.
periscope is provided, and the barrel support is only given in the
raised position (but with the ring around the barrel open), meaning
that an in-action representation will need a bit of scratchbuilding/modification.
exhaust, which, interestingly, were installed underneath the fenders
are not represented in the kit.
antenna was added on top of the radio operator's compartment.
small springs in the fender flaps are not represented in the kit.
I didn't bother.
recall that s.Pz.Jg.Abt.653 and 654 were equipped with the Ferdinand.
Based on  and , we can say this about their markings:
653 Markings during Zitadelle
Tactical Symbol was positioned on the upper right corner on
the rear of the Ferdinand's fighting compartment from July to
The vehicles were numbered in the 1xx-3xx range.
654 Markings during Zitadelle
From 5 July to 23 August 1943 a letter "N"
was usually painted on the left front fender and on the rear hull,
referring to the Abteilung commander Hauptmann Karl-Heinz Noak.
The vehicles were numbered in the IIxx, 5xx-7xx range
On 23 August 1943, s.Pz.Jg.Abt. 654 handed over all their Ferdinands
to s.Pz.Jg.Abt. 653 and returned to Orleans, France to be re-equipped
does this teach us about the marking options ?
is a s.Pz.Jg.Abt. 653 vehicle and thus should need the "tactical
symbol", which the decals don't provide. Worse, though, is
that the decals only give you two "123" decals, which
is more than likely one too few. The marking instructions also
show a toolbox on the back of the tank, which the kit doesn't
is a well known vehicle of s.Pz.Jg.Abt. 654, which on 13 July
1943 became disabled
in a minefield. It was afterwards captured by the Soviets
and now rests at Kubinka (in a different camo scheme).
The marking options claim it is a s.Pz.Jg.Abt. 653 vehicle, but
ask you to add the "N". So, basically, the markings
are right (as is the camo scheme), but the caption is wrong.
is a vehicle of s.Pz.Jg.Abt. 654 (not 653 as the instructions
claim), but pictures showing it in August 43 display a different
font for the numbers. It should also carry the "N".
line: it seems that "501" can be safely selected and built
using only the decals that are provided, while "612" requires
a minor leap of faith regarding the font of the numbers.
note that the Balkenkreuze in my kit were enough out of register
to bother me. They were replaced with items from the spares box.
a very good representation of the Ferdinand.
OK, it's a bit short and the tracks need some attention, but it is
very well detailed, and if you have a bit of patience, it goes together
ten Brink shares some images of the construction of his Ferdinand.
48 Discussion Group
Combat History of German Heavy Tank Unit 653 in World War II, K-H
Münch, Stackpole books
Jagdpanzer, W.L. Spielberger, H.L. Doyle, T.L. Jentz, Band 15 der
Serie "Militärfahrzeuge", Motorbuch Verlag
sample received from Zvezda through IPMS/Belgium.
kits can be purchased from